Brandon Lirio: “No Professional You Have Ever Seen Is A Natty” | U-Natty States Of America Podcast

Brandon Lirio breaks down the problem with “natty police” in sports – especially bodybuilding

Steroids and PEDs in bodybuilding have often been a big controversial topic in the sports world. But the truth is that nearly all professional sports have a drug problem. While different leagues have different measures in place to prevent drug use (if tested at all), nearly every sport has had its own scandal involving an iconic athlete using PEDs. The problem with this – is that tried and true natural leagues then fall under the same cynicism. There is a very loud base of bodybuilding fans who think most bodybuilders in natural leagues are cheating the system and using. Is it true? In our latest episode of U-Natty States Of America, natural bodybuilder and host Brandon Lirio dives deep into the reality of PED use in bodybuilding and sports at large. 

Brandon Lirio wants to make something perfectly clear to his audience – no professional athlete is natural. Well, at least in most major professional leagues. Unless a league is specifically situated as a vigorous natural division of the sport – it’s unlikely the pro athletes are PED free.

Yes, many major sports are drug tested – but they aren’t necessarily “natural leagues.” Unfortunately, many drug tests are easy to cheat past. This isn’t for lack of trying by the leagues. It’s very financially challenging to provide an airtight drug testing schedule to any sport. The amount of times throughout the year you would have to test across all athletes in any given league would be… exhausting (financially and physically) to say the least.

This is why Brandon Lirio even admits that there is a small minority of natural bodybuilders in the INBA/PNBA that cheat. Most of them get caught eventually. But the cheating does happen. On the flip side, the IFBB Pro league doesn’t test at all. And as Lirio puts it in his opinion, “You have a zero percent chance to win a pro show if you are natural.”

So if so many athletes are using PEDs, what can be done? And does today’s society of internet keyboard warriors debating “natty or not” status help or hurt the sport? For the purposes of today’s podcast, Brandon Lirio stays focused on bodybuilding specifically with a glimpse at the bigger sports industry in general.

The Problem With “Natty Police” In Bodybuilding

If drug tests can be beaten by athletes, is there really a way to look at someone visually and determine if they are natural or not? This is the question Brandon Lirio poses during the podcast. As noted, the leagues (even in larger sports) may try their best to prevent cheating. But it is never 100% successful.

Many fans, and even other bodybuilders, believe they have enough knowledge and experience to tell if someone is using steroids. They can simply see the physique and know the truth. But Brandon thinks that this has become overzealous behavior in the online era.

Even if there is a high percentage chance your hunch is right by looking at their physique – that doesn’t mean you should necessarily call them out or try to publicly punish them for it. Most fans and even other bodybuilders are not elected officials or officers in hired by the league. These athletes owe nothing to the fans in terms of transparency regarding PED use.

Brandon Lirio also points out that in the United States, we are a country that has proudly lived by the notion – innocent until proven guilty. Looking at someone’s physique without any real evidence is not proof. So why criticize or try to “cancel” a person for potentially lying about their natural status?

Ultimately, Brandon Lirio lays out his opinion loud and clear – if you criticize or demand on line that someone tell the truth about their natural or drug use status… you’re a dick.

Understanding The Reality Of Elite Level Bodybuilders And Athletes

Brandon Lirio also points out another problem with the natty or not debate. We often underestimate just how talented outliers in a sport can be. And by outliers, we mean the most elite iconic athletes in any given sport. It’s easy to assume the best of the best are only there because of PEDs. But it is possible that a certain athlete appears “unreal” because they are in fact a rarity compared to most athletes.

Mike O’Hearn comes to mind. While he may never convince everyone that he has been natural his whole life, there is no denying that, drugs or not, he has a work ethic and talent unlike 99% of most bodybuilders. So it can be possible that his unreal physique is simply a product of living a truly unreal lifestyle compared to even many fellow bodybuilders.

Are Most Natural Bodybuilding League Competitors Secretly Using PEDs?

This brings us to the question – if tests can be beaten, are natural bodybuilding leagues filled with secret steroid users? Brandon Lirio doesn’t think so. While there will always be the occasional cheater, there is one very important reason that Lirio thinks most natural leagues remain clean. It has everything to do with money.

Most bodybuilders who enter a natural league do so because of their personal principles about lifestyle and health. They love bodybuilding but refuse to compete in an untested league where they will feel pressured to use drugs to succeed. But why don’t they feel pressure in natural leagues to try and cheat and rise above the ranks?

Brandon Lirio thinks it just doesn’t make logical sense. The prize money for the biggest shows in natural bodybuilder are simply not worth the health risk. Why sacrifice your long term health by using PEDs for a $15,000 prize purse? The payout doesn’t promise millions, so most athletes in the natural leagues have no incentive to cheat and potentially harm themselves.

Wrap Up

Brandon Lirio isn’t trying to change the way drug testing is done in bodybuilding and other sports. He’s also not trying to criticize untested leagues like the IFBB Pro for allowing PEDs to run rampant. What he wants to make clear – is that the natty or not debate is stupid. Tests can’t prove it. Your eyes can’t prove it. And in a world where even major league sports have problems with testing, why harass the athletes?

The limits athletes are willing to push is a personal choice. Yes, there are laws in many countries that take it beyond just a personal choice. But we all know an athlete will always do whatever it takes to achieve greatness. If someone is natural, that’s okay. If someone uses steroids, that’s okay. If someone uses steroids and lies about it, that’s okay too as long as it’s not in a tested league cheating out other competitors.

You can watch Brandon Lirio’s full comments in our latest episode of the U-Natty States Of America podcast. Make sure to check out new episodes every Wednesday only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.